How to Track Employee Hours without Fuss

Are you looking for the best ways to accurately track employee hours? Our guide offers a practical approach to mastering this essential aspect of business management. Designed for companies with hourly employees and projects, it’s more than just about clocking in and out.

We delve into the most effective strategies for tracking employee hours to boost employee productivity, pinpoint inefficiencies or time wasters, and reduce overtime. From manual methods to best time tracking apps, we cover a variety of time tracking techniques to fit your business needs.

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This article is your key to integrating time tracking smoothly into your daily operations, fostering a more productive, balanced, and harmonious work environment.

Keep reading to discover the ideal time management solution for your team!

Reasons to track employee hours

If you’re wondering, ‘Should I be tracking employee hours too?’ the short answer is: Yes, particularly in the following scenarios:

  • If your team includes hourly employees, it’s important for them to actively log their own time. This ensures accurate tracking of the time they spend on the job.
  • When working with various clients and projects and billing by hours worked, accurate timesheets are necessary to invoice correctly and assess the profitability of each project. There are several compelling reasons for this. Let’s explore a few benefits of tracking employee hours.

Smooth payroll processing

First and foremost, without accurate employee timesheets, you won’t be able to process payroll accurately. You simply need to know many work hours your employees clocked in to pay them fairly. (What additionally streamlines a payroll process is a direct integration of your payroll software with your work time tracking app – more about that in the next chapter.)

The perfect way to increase your revenue

Secondly, tracking employee hours helps you optimize business operations and increase revenue. What does time tracking has to do with revenue, you’d ask. The keyword here is billable hours. If your team works for several different customers and projects, time tracking is essential for accurate client billing.

Additionally, by tracking the time of all team activities, you are able to identify the tasks and projects that generate the most significant income and substantially contribute to your business revenue.

Improved employee productivity

Tracking work hours is an excellent way to increase employee productivity. It helps you understand where your time goes and empowers you to make every minute of your employee time count.

Overtime and workload in check

Last but not least, tracking how many hours employees spend at work helps keep a healthy work-life balance. Workload management and overtime tracking suddenly become a breeze, aiding you in keeping team motivation and health in good condition.

Why is it so important to track time accurately?

Why is accurately tracking time so crucial? This is where the concept of the Time Monkey Effect comes into play. It illustrates how our emotions can warp our perception of time, leading to skewed estimations that can jeopardize project success.

When we’re engrossed in enjoyable tasks, time seems to speed up, whereas it slows down during less stimulating activities. This varying perception can result in significant inaccuracies in estimating how long tasks actually take, affecting project planning, budgeting, and productivity.

Accurate time tracking in project management helps correct these distortions, aligning our perceived time with reality and leading to more reliable project outcomes and effective time management.

How to track employee hours

1. Time tracking app

A time tracking app like Timeular is a digital solution that automates the process of recording how much time is spent on various tasks. Unlike traditional methods like manual time tracking or punch clocks, these apps often work in the background, quietly logging hours without requiring constant input from the user.

How they work:

This automated time tracking is what sets it apart — it’s an almost effort-free approach. Your employees are not constantly stopping to write down what they’re doing; the automated time tracking software handles it for them.

This leads to more accurate and less biased data on how time is actually spent, which is invaluable for improving productivity, less labor costs, managing projects more effectively, and streamlining client billing.

  • Please note: Time tracking apps provide different methods to track time and not all of them offer automated time tracking.

Pros of using a time tracking app

  • No need to chase timesheets ever again: Time is logged in an online platform, accessible around the clock by both employees and employers.
  • Automated reporting: Using time tracking apps, you can easily access automated reports or create your own reports with just a few clicks.
  • Streamlined payroll and billing: Time tracking software usually effortlessly integrates with your invoicing and payroll software, simplifying all financial processes.
  • Quick and engaging time recording: It’s a breeze to record work hours — creating timesheets is quick, easy, and kinda fun, actually (especially with the personalized physical time tracker).
  • Automated billable hour tracking: You can label each task as billable or not billable, add hourly rates, and let the employee time tracking app take care of tracking billable time for you.
  • Effective leave and overtime management: Time tracking apps like Timeular provide leave tracker functionalities that let you track all types of absences and time off.
  • Friendly reminders to track time: If the employee time tracking software spots that your employees don’t record their time during the day, it will send them automated reminders to help maintain consistent and precise time tracking.
  • Mobile apps for on-the-go tracking: With mobile time tracking, your employees can track time wherever they are — it’s super handy for those always on the move.
  • Great for remote teams: Time tracking apps are ideal for remote work setups, offering flexibility and ease of use regardless of location.

Track your employee hours with Timeular – the 100% effortless and secure time tracking app

Cons of using an employee time tracking app

To enjoy all the benefits of a work time tracking app, you need to choose wisely. As time tracking software is sometimes perceived by employees as a monitoring tool, you need an employee-friendly solution that doesn’t allow for micromanagement.

Employees will only track time honestly if they don’t feel monitored in real-time. Therefore, Timeular has a 24-hour delay for time entries to appear on the managers’ side.

2. Pen and paper

Time tracking template to track employee hour

Despite the digital age transforming most business practices, the traditional pen-and-paper method for tracking employee hours remains in use, particularly among some small businesses. This approach involves manually recording work hours, a process that harks back to simpler times.

While it might seem outdated in a world of apps and automation, for some companies, this method offers a straightforward, no-tech solution that aligns with their operational style. It’s a testament to the enduring value of simplicity in an increasingly complex business landscape.

How it works

Employees write down their arrival and departure times as well as specific tasks completed throughout the day. These details are captured on paper records, such as logbooks or timesheets, and later manually tallied to compute the total work hours.


  • Cost-effective: It’s a completely free method for tracking employee time, requiring no investment in technology or software.
  • Simplicity: The process is straightforward and easy to understand and implement.
  • No technical skills needed: Anyone with basic writing and counting abilities can effectively use this method for tracking employee time.
  • Flexibility: Easily adaptable to different formats and layouts based on specific needs. Immediate Implementation: Requires no setup time or learning curve, unlike digital tools.


This manual time tracking method for tracking employee hours, while straightforward, has several disadvantages:

  • Time-intensive: This manual time tracking method requires significant time for writing, organizing, and calculating hours.
  • Error-prone: The risk of human error in recording and calculating hours is higher compared to digital methods.
  • Lack of security: Paper records can be easily lost, damaged, or accessed by unauthorized persons.
  • No real-time tracking: This method doesn’t offer real-time tracking or instant updates, potentially leading to delays in data availability.
  • Limited data analysis: Analyzing trends or generating productivity reports is more challenging and less efficient than with time tracking apps.
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3. Online time tracking templates

Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets are popular tools for tracking employee hours, offering a familiar solution in many business settings.

How they work:

Employees record the time spent on various tasks within these templates. With appropriate formulas, these sheets automatically calculate total work hours over daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly periods.


  • User-friendly for regular users: Intuitive for those who are familiar with Excel or Google Sheets.
  • Highly customizable: Easily adaptable, allowing for specific modifications and additional formulas.
  • Versatile data handling: Suitable for various tracking and analytical needs.


  • Time-intensive management: Requires significant effort in setup, data entry, and review.
  • Increased complexity: Adding formulas for leaves, PTO, and other variables can make the system more intricate.
  • Dependence on estimates: Often relies on approximations of time spent, which may not be completely accurate.
  • Limited security and [rivacy: Data stored in spreadsheets can be less secure and more prone to privacy breaches.
  • Difficulty in consolidating data: Aggregating information from multiple sheets for analysis or reporting can be challenging.

If you’re looking for a template, we’ve prepared several free time tracking templates ready for downloading.

Read also:

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Don’t waste your team’s time on manual time tracking

Automate time tracking with Timeular and do it under 1 minute per day

3. Time clocks

Originating in the late 1800s, time clocks are a longstanding method for tracking employee hours. Time clock solutions come in various forms, including card swipes and biometric systems like retina or fingerprint scanners.

How they work

Employees clock in by swiping a card or undergo a biometric check upon arriving and leaving the job site. The time clock system then calculates employee work hours based on these check-ins and check-outs.

Pros of time clocks:

  • Ease of use: Time clock requires minimal action from employees; just a swipe or scan at arrival and departure.
  • Automated data recording: The time clock system automatically logs and calculates total time spent at work.
  • Accurate time tracking: Time clock software provides precise records of employee attendance and hours worked.

Cons of time clocks:

  • High implementation costs: Time clocks are especially costly if a company operates multiple job sites.
  • Potential hygiene issues: Depending on the employee clocks system (card, fingerprint, retina), regular cleaning is necessary to maintain hygiene.
  • Impractical for mobile workforces: Not suitable for employees who work at multiple locations or are frequently on the move.
  • Not suitable for remote work: Limited tracking hours of employees physically present at the site, making it ineffective for remote work scenarios.

TIP: Did you know that you can use a time-keeping app as a time clock software?

Timeular time tracking app works on smartphone and desktop

5. GPS and location tracking

GPS and location tracking tools are widely used by companies with field services to accurately monitor the work hours of employees who are operating in various locations outside the office.

How it works:

Employees carry GPS-enabled devices that automatically record their location at different job sites. This data is then used to accurately calculate their work hours, streamlining timekeeping for field-based tasks.


  • Efficient remote time tracking: These tools make it easy to track the time employees spend outside the office.
  • Accurate location data: Provides precise information about where employees are during work hours, ensuring accountability.


  • Necessitates manual time calculation: While GPS tracking provides location data, calculating the actual work hours still requires manual effort.
  • Privacy and autonomy issues: The use of GPS tracking can raise concerns among employees about privacy and being monitored too closely.
  • Reliance on GPS-enabled devices: The effectiveness of this method is dependent on employees having access to and using GPS-enabled devices.
  • Vulnerability to technical errors: GPS tracking is susceptible to inaccuracies due to signal issues or device malfunctions.

Read: The best employee time tracking software

6. Monitoring tools

Employee monitoring tools, which companies use to oversee various work activities of their employees, can be quite contentious. These tools monitor app and website usage, scrutinize emails and messages, and may even record phone calls or track locations using GPS.

Although intended to boost efficiency and protect company data, their use is often discouraged. The downsides, like invading privacy, damaging trust, and creating a stressful atmosphere, usually outweigh the perceived benefits.

It’s important to prioritize respect for employee privacy and trust, and to adhere to legal standards, making the use of such monitoring tools generally not recommended.


This is a method that should be avoided at all costs by companies and, therefore has no pros. Let’s review the cons of employee monitoring:

  1. Privacy concerns: They can infringe on employee privacy, creating an atmosphere where employees feel their personal space and autonomy are being invaded.
  2. Trust issues: Excessive monitoring can signal a lack of trust from management, potentially damaging the trust-based relationship between employer and employee.
  3. Stress and pressure: Being constantly monitored can lead to increased stress and pressure, which can, in turn, affect mental well-being and employee satisfaction.
  4. Reduced morale and productivity: Instead of improving productivity, such monitoring can have the opposite effect, as employees might feel valued more for their output than their professional skills and contributions.
  5. Potential for conflict: It can lead to workplace conflicts and a negative work environment, as employees may feel they are being treated unfairly or suspiciously.
  6. Legal and ethical issues: If not implemented carefully, monitoring tools can lead to legal repercussions and ethical dilemmas, particularly if they are used in ways that violate employee privacy rights or labor laws.

Make sure you use transparent tracking methods to avoid workplace conflicts and respect employee privacy.

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Timeular is NOT a monitoring tool

Employees will only track time spent honestly if they don’t feel monitored in realtime. Therefore Timeular has a 24h delay for time entries to appear on the manager’s side.

What to look for in an employee hour tracking app

When choosing an employee hour tracking app, it’s essential to focus on top features that enhance usability and accuracy. Here are the top three factors to consider:

  • User-friendly interface: The tool should have an intuitive and easy-to-navigate interface. This ensures that employees can use it effortlessly, leading to better compliance and more accurate time tracking.
  • Multiple time tracking methods: The app should offer various methods for tracking time, such as manual entry, timer-based tracking, or automated systems. This flexibility allows it to cater to different work styles and preferences.
  • Automatic time tracking: Look for features that enable automatic tracking of time spent on tasks. This reduces the burden of manual entries and enhances the accuracy of the time recorded.

What is the best way to track employee hours?

The answer to this simple question is also simple: it depends.

Different solutions can work for different companies and businesses. 

When looking for an hour-tracking solution, you should make sure you choose the method that “steals” little to no time, is automated, easy to use, and, if possible and applicable, remote-friendly, as remote work is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. 

Choose what’s best for your company and for employees, and streamline your time tracking processes today!

FAQ about employee time tracking

Is there an app to track employee hours?

Yes, there is! A good example of an app tracking employee hours is Timeular. You can use it as a desktop app, web app, or mobile app. Additionally, it provides a physical time-tracking device that works as a reminder to track time regularly.

Can I integrate employee time tracking app with a task management tool?

Yes, you can, and it’s easy! Take a look at the software that the Timeular time tracking app is integrating with Timeular integrations. You will find payroll processing apps, project management tools, and task management software for both small businesses and enterprises.

How to track working hours on Google Sheets?

To track working hours in Google Sheets, set up a sheet with columns for dates, hours worked, and other relevant data, then enter this information manually. Utilize Google Sheets formulas to automatically calculate the total hours worked, ensuring efficient and accurate time management.

How to track employee hours in Excel?

To track employee hours in Excel, create a spreadsheet with columns for date, hours worked, and other relevant details, then input the data manually or automatically. Use Excel formulas to calculate total hours worked, ensuring accurate and efficient timekeeping.

How to track the hours of employees working from home?

One of the best ways to track employee time remotely is to use a time tracking tool. This automated and digital method will easily track working hours, connecting the data in real-time to the person in charge of keeping track of the employees’ working hours.

How to track working hours on an iPhone?

The best way to track working hours on an iPhone is by using a time-keeping app, also known as a time tracking tool or app. Why? Some time tracking apps like Timeular have a mobile app version, which can be used on an iPhone as easily as they are used on a computer.

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